Thursday 9 April 2015

culled from:
“You must market your marketing” – Jay Baer, Convince and Convert
If you’re a savvy marketer, you’re already actively engaging in content marketing. Unfortunately, many business owners are so focused on the creation of their content that they’re forgetting the marketing component of the equation. After all, what good is amazing content if nobody knows about it?
Effective content marketing involves content planning, content production and content distribution. Most marketers have a good grasp of the first two elements, but what about distribution?
Without a solid plan for the distribution and promotion of your marketing content, you might as well not be producing it in the first place; save your money and allocate it to other revenue-generating marketing strategies.
According to Contently’s 2014 State of Content Marketing report, 2015 is the year when businesses will finally realize the need for a distribution strategy: “The newspaper companies used to have two things that gave them control of the world’s information: printing presses and delivery trucks. Tools for creation and publishing online have given brands the virtual press; this year and forward, they’re going to need to start investing more intelligently in the trucks.”
So, what are these “trucks”? What does a smart content distribution strategy look like? This article will provide an overview of the various channels business owners can use to get their content where it needs to go. These channels will be broken into three main categories: owned media, earned media and paid media.
Distribution Through Owned Media
Owned media basically consists of all the channels you’ve created and built up; basically what we would refer to as your ‘audience’. This will likely include your website and blog, email list, your social media fans and followers, your RSS subscribers, etc. These will likely be the distribution channels that take up most of your time and eat up much of your budget.
Your email list is perhaps your most valuable channel for your content distribution, as it’s the only online asset you have that you have the ultimate control over. Your search rankings and social media reach, for instance, are dictated and limited by guidelines and algorithms outside of your control. Your email list, however, is yours free and clear.
Three critical steps for distribution via your owned media include:
Optimize for search, particularly mobile search: While the technical aspects of SEO are still important, we’re increasingly seeing a shift toward a more holistic focus on overall customer experience. What I mean is this: you can optimize a piece of content to the hilt, but if it’s not hitting the mark with your audience, it’s useless. The principles of good SEO must be applied to every piece of content you write, and not just as an after-the-fact addition. It’s also critical to start adopting a ‘mobile first’ mindset as you create and distribute your content: How and where will your audience be accessing your content? What types of content do your mobile readers prefer? I covered this in more detail in my article, 10 Steps to Creating a Mobile-Optimized Content Marketing Strategy.
Create a modular yet integrative content plan: Create “content modules” – small bits of content, each with a specific purpose – that can be distributed through various channels for maximum impact. For instance, you can create a blog post that doubles as an email to your subscribers or that can be syndicated on LinkedIn.
Segment your audience: How tailored is your email distribution? According to email marketing provider Mail Chimp, businesses that employ segmentation in their email campaigns receive 14% more opens and nearly 15% more clicks than the list average. They found that the most popular and effective way to segment was by fields in their recipient database; for instance, zip code or job title. Using these fields, businesses saw an almost 19% increase in opens and 22% increase in clicks.
 Distribution Through Earned Media
Earned media is essentially the exposure your content gets through free media. This might include publicity it gets through media mentions, through going viral on social media or by being mentioned on a popular website or blog.  Earned media can’t be bought, and often (but not always) is a direct result of the reach your content is getting through owned and paid distribution channels.
Reach out to influencers in your niche: One strategy you can use to increase the reach of your content is to reach out to influencers in your market. This will essentially be earned distribution; because while you can take steps to get your content in front of influencers, what they’ll do with that content is up to them. One strategy you can implement to increase the chances of having these influencers share your content is to create content that’s potentially compelling to these key figures and their audiences. Focus on building relationships via sharing their content with your audience and commenting on their blog and social media posts. Keep your focus on building long-term relationships rather than conducting one-time transactions.
Guest blog on popular niche sites: By contributing to well-respected sites that your audience reads and trusts, you expand the reach of your content and build trust in your brand. Be sure to focus each piece of content you create on the unique audience you’ll be writing for. For more on this, see my post How to Run a Successful Guest Blogging Campaign After Penguin 2.0.
Get free PR with a service like HARO: HARO (Help a Reporter Out) connects reporters with expert sources (you!) for their articles. This free service sends out 3 query lists via email each day; if you see a request that you can help with, you simply respond to the request. In this way you can get quoted or interviewed in major media outlets. Of course, there’s also the ‘old fashioned’ method of PR: reaching out to journalist or bloggers via email or social media, in the hopes that they’ll cover your content.
Distribution Through Paid Media
Unless you’re a big brand with a huge marketing budget, the majority of your time and money will be spent on distribution through owned and earned media. However, we’re also seeing many smaller businesses scaling their marketing efforts through paid social media ads like Facebook’s promoted posts or Twitter’s promoted tweets. Tools like Outbrain let you get your content onto major outlets in the form of “suggested posts”. When paying for exposure, be sure to first evaluate whether the audience is a good fit for your content and message; paid media can get costly really quick, so find out where you audience is most engaged and active.
I opened this article with a quote from Jay Behr: “You must market your marketing”. This is particularly true for content marketing. Without the proper promotion and distribution of your content, you’re likely to find your content strategy ineffective and simply not worth your time, money and effort.
Do you have strategies in place for effectively distributing your content? Which channels are you currently using? Let me know in the comments below!


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